Wednesday, 1st August 2012
Is it time for another dog?
"Last year, our beloved family pet, Ricky, died of cancer. He was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and we had him for 13 years. My family and I were so upset about it that we did not imagine wanting another dog. Now that we have had some time to grieve, we are starting to talk about getting a new dog. This time, we would like to get a large breed dog like a Husky or Boxer to avoid comparison with Ricky. Are we jumping in at the deep end, as we have never had a big dog?"
It is only natural that you and your family would be upset at the loss of your dog, especially after 13 years, and that in the aftermath, you would feel like never getting another dog. I appreciate that it has taken time to change this view and it is good that you want to take the time to make the right decision when it comes to your new pet. Even if you did get a dog of the same breed, it would still not be a "replacement" for Ricky. Sometimes, getting a dog of a different breed, sex or colour can make it easier as it will be significantly different from your old pet in appearance or personality.
With regard to the issue of whether or not you should get a large breed dog, it is a decision that must take into account factors such as your lifestyle, daily routine, leisure time and space. Large breed dogs such as Huskies or Boxers can be very rewarding to own and enjoyable to be around, but they are very active, energetic and boisterous, especially when young. Although Cavaliers can be quite active, and they enjoy playing and walking, they tend to be fairly relaxed around the home. Boxers and Huskies need a lot of ongoing training and exercise to avoid boredom, as this can lead to behavioural problems and destructiveness if they are left to their own devices.
Another issue to remember is that if you take on a puppy, you will have to deal with the normal house-training, chewing and general disobedience that goes with it, as you will have been used to a well-behaved adult dog for over a decade previous to this. With any dog, but especially one of a large breed that is going to grow into a big, strong adult, it is important to start with training and establishing a routine from the very start to avoid future problems. Although it might be cute when a young puppy is jumping up on you, it will be a different story when it is an adult weighing 30-35 kg and is strong enough to knock you, or a child, over.
If you take on an adult dog, although you may avoid the soiling in the house, random chewing and barking at night-time that we associate with puppies, they are not immune to behavioural problems and will need ongoing training. A popular option is rehoming a greyhound from a rescue centre. Although they love exercise, they tend to be very laidback at home once their exercise time is over, and are very affectionate.
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